I just wrapped up design of a Lakefront Home for someone that had been living in a house for 20 years which frustrated them. In that home the Kitchen and Family Room were separated by a stairway enclosed by walls. Understandably, it always bothered them to be cut off from the family in the family room as she was working in the Kitchen.
She began the process of achieving her lakefront home with a builder who was providing “free” design. The client is friends of friends and they convinced her to come to see me after the “free” design was leading to another frustrating home.
Quickly I was able to understand what her needs, wants, and constraints were and we worked through a couple of options until we arrived at the design she liked best. The owner is very relived, happy, and now can’t wait until things get built. When I first met her she was panicked and worried that she was just going to get another place of frustration to live in.
Architects are trained to be able to compose a building to be beautiful, practical, and fun. “Free design” is just a compilation. It is akin to the difference between a 20 second email and an important single page letter that is culled and crafted and composed until it is just right. “Free design” takes all the expensive products that go into a home and tosses it on a truck to be dumped on the site. The result is a jumbled bunch of expensive stuff that frustrates. Buildings and homes that are composed and well designed flow well, last long, and are fun. The arrangement, look, and feel of the place is in and of itself valuable. The place created is a valuable composition of valuable components. This is better than a “free” compiled jumbled pile of expensive product.